Chicken Tenders Are the Latest Part of the Bird in Short Supply

Chicken Tenders Are the Latest Part of the Bird in Short Supply

By Jelisa Castrodale | FoodAndWine.Com

Troy Warren for CNT #Foodie

Sorry, parents: your already picky child’s mealtime could be even more complicated. According to TODAY, chicken tenders could be increasingly hard to come by for the time being — and if you can find them, they might be more expensive.

“When I come home from the store and I don’t have any chicken tenders, my kids are not happy,” Arizona mom Molly Edmunds told the outlet. “The shelves have been empty recently, restaurants have been out of chicken tenders, and that makes it very difficult when you have kids that have limited options.”

If that sounds familiar, that’s because chicken tenders have been an in-demand (and occasionally off-the-shelf) item a couple of times this year. In September, KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman told Bloomberg that the chicken giant wasn’t advertising its breaded tenders on TV because of concerns that if everybody started ordering tenders, restaurants might start to run short.

“On chicken tenders, we have enough to supply demand, but we would love to have more to be able to aggressively promote it on TV,” he said. “In terms of advertising and promotion we’re going to focus on things we have abundant quantities of.” (In a statement, the company later clarified that it was “not currently experiencing a supply issue,” but it was spending its ad dollars to showcase products that were available in “abundant quantities.”)

So what gives? It’s most likely a combination of things. Producing chicken tenders is a more labor-intensive process and, as CBS News reported earlier this year, chicken processing plants have had employee shortages. Donnie King, the president and CEO of Tyson Foods said that having enough workers was the company’s “number one challenge,” while the head of Pilgrims Pride said that their plants weren’t able to “debone as much as [they] want” because of staffing issues.

Another issue at play is the fact that, well, we’ve just been eating a lot of chicken lately, both driven by the pre-pandemic “chicken sandwich wars” and the mid-pandemic delivery boom, which involved a lot of chicken wings to go. (The increased price and decreased availability of chicken wings even led the Wingstop chain to launch a carryout and Doordash-delivery brand called Thighstop that focused on, well, that other part of the chicken.)

And, as we all learned in Econ 101, balancing supply and demand has an impact on prices as well. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of a chicken tenders value pack has increased from $3.02 this time last year to $3.99 now.

Maybe this is a good time to introduce your kid to… I dunno, mac and cheese? Hot dogs? Really anything that doesn’t come from a chicken.

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By Troy Warren

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